“The Highwaymen” is a retelling of the Bonnie and Clyde story from the point of view of the lawmen. I thought, that’s interesting– how are they going to show the ambush that brought down Bonnie and Clyde? It doesn’t fit the mythical honor code of Texas lawmen you know, courage and integrity, and honor and crack shots. Confronting the bad guy with your demur manliness and demanding surrender. Texas lawmen don’t hide in the bushes and open fire without warning on an unsuspecting target– especially a woman.
So they had Frank Hamer, the “courageous” and “honorable” former Texas Ranger step out in front of the car and demand their surrender first. That never happened, not in any of the many accounts of that day. They hid in the bushes and fired– something like 139 shots– at Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, using guns they knew to be able to pierce metal. Everyone agreed that the first shot hit Barrow in the head, so they were mainly shooting at Bonnie Parker from then on.
Then the movie showed Frank Hamer turning down money for an interview as if he was above that sort of thing– which also was not true (he fought for a bigger share of the reward money for years).
It is unfortunate that the police were never clever enough to even really attempt to arrest Clyde Barrow without getting into a gun battle. That would have required planning and skill, and it would have been very risky. Here’s why: Clyde Barrow had a terrible, terrible experience in the Texas prison system and he had firmly decided that he was never, ever going back. So, yes, whenever anyone tried to arrest him, he would resist. Given a choice, he’d rather die in a gunfight than return to prison.
Was there a way the police could have arrested him without taking a lot of casualties? It would have been extremely difficult. If they had had intelligence about a planned robbery or rendezvous with family, perhaps they could have planted lawmen near enough to wrestle him down to the ground before he could pull a weapon.
Frank Hamer was famous for having killed over 50 bad guys in his career as a Texas Ranger. We are expected to believe that in over 50 interactions with bad guys– suspects, you understand (of course– none of them were convicted yet of the crimes for which he was trying to apprehend them), Frank Hamer, we are told, out-gunned them fair and square in the process of trying to arrest them. Think about that. Over 50 times.
Could be they were really stupid criminals, trying to outgun a famous Texas Ranger.
Could be Frank Hamer didn’t like to bother with due process.
Later in life, Frank Hamer worked as a union-buster for some oil companies.
I don’t mind the film making the argument that any attempt to arrest Bonnie and Clyde would have resulted in a gun battle. But we don’t tolerate an out and out ambush nowadays. The police are expected to at least make an attempt to arrest a suspect before shooting him or her. Well,– they are expected to at least make it look like they did.
I just mind the BS about Frank Hamer being more heroic or smarter or honorable than he really was.